Thousands of Immigrants Occupy across Spain

Since December, when new racist immigration laws were passed by the Spanish government, immigrant communities around the country have been occupying churches and buildings to protest these unjust laws and demand regularization and papers for all. The last time I counted there was around 30 encierros (occupations), many with at least 500 participants, one of women only, and some on hunger strike.


Since December, when new racist immigration laws were passed by the Spanish government, immigrant communities around the country have been occupying churches and buildings to protest these unjust laws and demand regularization and papers for all. The last time I counted there was around 30 encierros (occupations), many with at least 500 participants, one of women only, and some on hunger strike.

The first occupations occured in Barcelona and they have now spread about the country with new ones happening weekly as the news spreads to other communities. As more people are refused papers and face deportation they are coming together with their allies and building a growing struggle against the new laws.

Solidarity with the immigrant community has been an overwhelming theme in any activist activity here in Spain. Recent solidarity protests against the World Economic Forum concentrated on the new "ley de extrenjera" in Spain. Here in Madrid there are numerous events on a daily basis, from heavy metal/punk/techno benefit concerts and raves, to debates, films, dinners. The spanish language school I go to even organizes a groups of people to go sleep over at the occupation every Monday in solidarity. Over the past month there have been many other demonstrations, actions, and educational events with the most recent in Madrid bringing around 20,000 particpants to the streets demanding rights for all immigrants.

The demands of the occupations and actions include:

  • A written guarantee that there won’t be deportations or sanctions against the immigrants and the organisations which support them.
  • An end to police harassment to which they are submitted as if they were criminals.
  • Work permits for all immigrants resident in Spain. Papers for all.
  • An urgent response to their petitions from the Government delegation.

Considering the new regulations put into law last December, this is little to ask for. Under the new legislation #8220 while foreign workers will still enjoy access to healthcare and education, the right of association, participation in public demonstrations or rallies, and the right to join a trade union have all been taken away. Except for their spouse and children, those foreign workers who are residents will no longer be able to bring family members to Spain for humanitarian reasons.

Under the previous law, to be found without proper papers or working without a work permit was considered an infringement of the law #12 but did not mean automatic expulsion, only a fine of up to 34,000 pesetas. Anybody who was expelled could return after a period of three to ten years. The ten-year exclusion period will now be made mandatory.

It is now compulsory for drivers to check immigrants’ documents at the point of departure. If a foreigner without a visa arrives in Spain to ask for asylum and is denied, the company who brought him in can be fined up to 340,000 pesetas. It will now be possible to expel a foreigner within 48 hours without appeal, if their papers are not in order. The denial of visas will not need to be justified. The period of stay in Spain before being able to apply for residency has been extended from two to five years. ( -Vicky Short, World Socialist Web Site.)

While the laws apply to all immigrants, the racist immplications are clear. The laws are directed entirely towards immigrants from Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and other third world countries who come to Spain looking for work and decent living conditions. They come because of the continous colonization and exploitation of their countries by multinationals and the violence erupting over control of these resources.

Spain is not alone in its facist immigration policies. It is an increasing trend in western nations who are adamant that globalization is a step towards a better world for all. While the WTO, IMF, World Bank, and FTAA declare that they are organizations
working to help the poor people of the world they are creating the very policies that exploit and restrict the movement of these people.

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Author: Brian Sharpe

News Service: The A-Infos News Service

URL: http://www.ainfos.ca/